The key thing that James wanted to put across was how important it is to be careful in how you speak. Our words are a good indicator of the condition of our hearts, or our character. This could be good or bad. If we had time we could also do a thematic study and find the same idea put across elsewhere. The first thing you might think of is that it's unChristian to use coarse or obscene language. There's no reason to think it should stop there.
When was the last time you gossiped, spread rumours or slander about others, putting others down, bragged, tried to manipulate someone, exaggerated, complained, used flattery, or lied? None of these things should have any place in a Christian’s life.
We see also that James uses the metaphors of a horse’s bit and a ship’s rudder. Even though both of these things are small, they have great power. Our words are no different. For good or bad, they can influence the course of your entire life, and they also have power over others, with one disclaimer. In no way does any of this support the erroneous idea of positive confession, popular in some Christian circles.
Even so, carelessly spoken words can cause a lot of damage, so this is a stern reminder to us to be careful about what we say, and to choose our words carefully. Speaking of words, James doesn’t mince his words here (verses 5 to 6). The wicked tongue has its source in hell. Satan uses the tongue to divide people and pit them against each other. Like the fire that James writes about, idle words are damaging because they spread destruction quickly, and no one can stop the results once they are spoken. Words spoken in the heat of the moment can cause a lot of damage. Words are like fire. You can’t control or reverse the damage they do.
What James is saying here (verses 7 to 12) is that if no human being can control the tongue, why bother trying? We must learn to control our tongues. But this isn’t something we can do in our own strength. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. We should want him to work in us so that our words will please God.
Our words, whether good or bad, reflect what is in our hearts. Set aside time to come before God and ask Him, are your words those of someone who is walking in the Spirit, whose heart is given over to God, or perhaps you might have some things to sort out with God.